, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 273-294
Date: 14 Dec 2005

Perceived Neighborhood Characteristics and Problem Behavior Among Disadvantaged Children

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Using survey data from former Head Start children in the third grade from 15 sites across the nation (n = 576), this study examines the relationship between maternal subjective neighborhood attributions and their children’s behavioral problems. Maternal perceptions of neighborhood characteristics were measured across five domains, including collective efficacy, barriers to services, negative neighbor affects, probability of child status attainment success, and overall neighborhood rating. Children’s problem behaviors, measured with the Social Skills Rating System, includes externalizing and internalizing outcomes. Our results suggest that the worse the maternal assessments on each neighborhood construct, the greater the extent of children’s problem behavior, holding constant child demographic factors and parental socioeconomic status. In addition, we find that family income effects on children’s problem behavior are partially mediated by these perceived neighborhood domains. Taken together, these results suggest that neighborhood deprivation is related to problematic behavioral outcomes in children.

The National Evaluation is supported by grants from the Head Start Bureau of the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families to each of the 31 local demonstration sites, and by a coordinating contract (#105-91-1541) to the Civitan International Research Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Jennifer L. Moren-Cross was supported by a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Research Training Grant (T32 AG00139) NIA Pre-Doctoral Fellowship during part of the preparation of this manuscript. An earlier version of this study was presented at the Southern Sociological Society, New Orleans, 2003. Our appreciation is extended to the editor and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments in revising this paper